The ancient Egyptians seem to be remembered for so many innovations -- building marvelous monuments, creating an impressive language, using some of the first technology, and recording poetry and images of common, erotic, sexual encounters.
In paintings and reliefs in Egyptian temples and tombs, the sexuality is often only suggested. For example, one relief depicts a husband and wife sitting demurely side by side in dignified surroundings.
But, in the "low" art of papyrus scroll-painting, Egyptian artists created explicitly erotic images. One of these scrolls has survived: the so-called Turin Erotic Papyrus (Papyrus 55001), now in the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy. Painted in the Ramesside period (1292-1075 B.C.E.). It consists of a continuous series of vignettes drawn on a papyrus scroll about 8.5 feet long and 10 inches high. The first third of the scroll (reading from right to left) shows animals and birds carrying out various human tasks. The rest consists of explicit depictions of sexual acts.
Dr. David O'Connor, noted Egyptologist and Guggenheim scholar, describes the vignettes:
"The erotic section of the Turin papyrus comprises 12 successive vignettes. In each vignette a grotesquely aroused, unkempt man has sexual relations with an attractive young woman. The woman, while virtually naked, is decidedly more elegant than her partner. The sexual positions are varied and extremely vivid.
"One vignette goes so far as to place the woman in a chariot with the man standing on the ground behind it (and her), creating an especially improbable scene."
(David O'Connor. "Eros in Egypt." Archaeology Odyssey. September-October. 2001)
And, there you have it -- proof that car sex predated the birth of the modern automobile by thousands of years since the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, acknowledged as the first car, was produced in 1886. It seems since the dawn of carriages, the device designed as the "war wagon" has also been used as a substitute chamber for erotic delights. Yes, the "hot rod" isn't called the "cold weiner."
I question O'Connor interpretation of chariot sex as "improbable."
In fact, I wonder if young Egyptian males typically bugged their fathers for use of the family chariot reins when they secured a hot date. "Dad, I need to use the chariot. Nubukha and I have front row tickets to the Hathor and the Osirians concert tonight in Alexandria. We will be back my midnight."
Then, after receiving permission to use the vehicle, the young man, filled with testosterone-charged visions of Nefertiti in his mind, set out to polish the family chariot and pack it with a blanket, a little hqt (honey and barley beer), and a birth control suppository made from acacia gum and dates. You can bet he planned on some desert fireworks after treating his love to the sweet sounds of modern music.
In a way, it's very reassuring to understand that ancient sexual encounters may have first begun in a vehicle. I know mine did, so I feel akin to this Egyptian sexual promiscuity. I thank God for dark country parking spaces, the radio and the 8 track player, flexible young limbs capable of handling limited spacial conditions, and fumbling, innocent first sexual encounters -- what better environment for practicing night moves?
So, the sensual appeal of hot cars certainly seems entwined with lust in history. Wheels got more things rolling than the transportation industry. They also provided privacy and space for sexual encounters and experimentation. It is ironic that so many years after the ancient Egyptians, American families, full-well knowing all the implications of the car and the date, chose to cloak the passion and the maturation produced in automobiles. Backseat affairs were just titillating "dirty little secrets."
Sexuality in ancient Egypt was open and untainted by guilt. Sex was an important part of life -- from birth to death and rebirth. Singles and married couples made love. Even the gods themselves were earthy enough to copulate. Who is to say what is better -- sexual expression or sexual repression?
In reality, whether it was the 1960s or 1292 B.C.E., people were "swinging low" in their "sweet chariots." The only difference was that one engine was fed by grasses and grain and the other was fed by gasoline. Nothing was going to stop the loving deed then, and nothing will stop it today. Compare two odes to sensual experiences separated by millenniums and see if you agree:
From "Night Moves" by Bob Seger
I was a little too tall
Could've used a few pounds
Tight pants points hardly reknown
She was a black haired beauty with big dark eyes
And points all her own sitting way up high
Way up firm and high
Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy
Out in the back seat of my '60 Chevy
Workin' on mysteries without any clues
Workin' on our night moves
Trying' to make some front page drive-in news
Workin' on our night moves in the summertime
In the sweet summertime
Untitled Ancient Egyptian Verse
She is one girl, there is no one like her.
She is more beautiful than any other.
Look, she is like a star goddess arising
at the beginning of a happy new year;
brilliantly white, bright skinned;
with beautiful eyes for looking,
with sweet lips for speaking;
she has not one phrase too many.
With a long neck and white breast,
her hair of genuine lapis lazuli;
her arm more brilliant than gold;
her fingers like lotus flowers,
with heavy buttocks and girt waist.
Her thighs offer her beauty,
with a brisk step she treads on ground.
She has captured my heart in her embrace.
She makes all men turn their necks
to look at her.
One looks at her passing by,
this one, the unique one.